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“Let’s get a quick selfie before we leave the ship.” Lalannah Damri grabbed her best friend and fellow Instagrammer and began the hunt for the most instagrammable spot on the ship. 

“Try deck 7, we could get the beach in the background from there. I think.” 

“Perfect!” Lalannah led her friend up the several decks taking the stairs two at a time. That had been her pledge when they boarded. She wouldn’t take any elevators during the 365 days they were at sea. It was their second full day on board and she was already regretting her decision.

Kara was shorter but a little more athletic and kept up easily. 

“We should hurry. We’re meant to be at the meeting point in like 30 minutes and who knows how long it will take to get off the ship.”

“I know, but we need to get as many shots as possible. They won’t leave for the tour without us.”

Kara sighed. “You know we’re not that important, right?” Kara sported the kind of look Lalannah wished she could pull off, short blonde hair that somehow managed to look cool even when she’d just woken up, denim cutoffs for six months of the year and jeans for the other six months. She even managed to make the hawaiian shirt she was wearing look cool.

Lalannah on the other hand had to spend hours making herself look like she belonged on instagram and half the time people assumed she was straight unless she was kissing a girl or waving a rainbow flag. 

Finally they reached deck 7. 

“Sunglasses or no sunglasses?” Lalannah asked. She had a couple of pairs to choose from, several more back in the room. Kara would wear the same pair all year and no one would notice. 

“With. The clouds are making it so glary.”

“We should have gotten drinks.” Lalannah glanced around hunting for the closest bar, the most they’d have time for was soft drinks but it would give them something to hold.

Kara darted off leaving Lalannah to find the perfect spot on the deck. If they could get part of the pool in as well as the beach in the background that would be perfect.

She took a few test shots from the ground and adjusted the deck chairs to get the angle they needed. Kara returned with two freezing glasses of lemonade, at least they kind of looked like vodka and tonic with the slice of lime. Lalannah sighed. It would have to do.

Kara slipped onto one of the seats posing effortlessly leaving Lalannah to try and get her hair to behave after pulling off her t-shirt. Everyone wanted to see that bikini shot, nobody wanted the t-shirt. 

Lalannah set the camera to take a few shots giving her time to slide onto the chair next to Kara. There wouldn’t be time to examine if any of them were good beyond a perfunctory glance. Kara already had her lemonade in hand, her gaze fixed on the horizon showing the kind of silhouette that left Lalannah weak in the knees, she loved the modern butch aesthetic. 

Lalannah grabbed her glass and reclined extending her toned stomach until the maximum amount of skin was visible between her tiny denim shorts and rainbow bikini top. 

One flash. A second flash. Three. She tried to look casual, tried to ignore the camera. Hoped she was in shot and her hair wasn’t doing anything weird. After the fifth shot she sprung to her feet and shoved the camera in its bag. 

“We really need to hurry.” Kara was already on her feet, her glass half empty, her own bag collected and slung over her shoulder. 

Lalannah didn’t bother stopping to check if Kara was following her, Kara knew how to look after herself. 

The race to deck 1 ended with both of them sweaty and out of breath.

“Sorry ladies, looks like your timing could do with some work. A tender boat just left.”

Lalannah glanced out to the ocean, one tender boat was chugging toward the tiny jetty and another was even further away on its way back toward Sapphire Waves.

“Damn, we’re meant to be at the kayaking tour at eleven thirty. We’re VIPs.”

Kara plastered her most charming smile and stepped forward. “Is there any way you could talk to the tour operators and make sure they wait?”

Lalannah offered an apologetic smile, already assuming the worst.

“The tour isn’t operated by us, it’s a third party. But I can tell you they almost never leave dead on eleven thirty. You’ll likely have five or ten minutes before they’re underway. If you can make it to the meeting point by then you’ll be okay.”

“Great. How far is the meeting point from the drop off?”

“Not too far, the end of the jetty. But I’ll warn you, that jetty is longer than it looks, you’ll still need to hurry.” The woman directed them to the front of the queue where Lalannah hopped from one foot to the other willing the little boat to get to them quicker. 

It was already 11:10 a.m. and that didn’t leave much time for loading them into and out of the boat, or for the ferry to the shore which seemed to move at a snail’s pace. 

They would be cutting it very fine. 

Kara remained totally blasé about the entire situation, so much so that she was having a very casual conversation with the woman who’d helped them. 

“I do hope you make it to your tour. The kayaking is gorgeous.”

“Oh, you’ve done it then?” The woman nodded. Her name tag said Sarah. Her Australian accent said she was at least semi local. 

“Not for a couple of years. It’s so unfortunate that there are fires right now, it would be even better with a blue sky.”

Lalannah secretly agreed but didn’t want to get involved in the conversation.

“They’re south of here right?” Kara leaned close and Lalannah sighed inwardly, Kara was awfully good at attracting every woman they met, or being attracted to every woman they met. 

“The fires? They’re everywhere, but the worst ones are roughly south of us.”

“It’s so awful. I can’t believe how big they are.” Kara glanced up to the slightly gray sky where it was obvious even to the casual observed that the sky was filled not with clouds but smoke.

The pair fell into silence for a few moments until finally the second tender boat pulled up to the side of the ship. At least it didn’t need to unload. Most people had already made their way to the shore but few were ready to return.

“I’d suggest grabbing a seat close to the front. That way you can make a quick escape,” Sarah suggested.

“Thanks. Do you have any other words of wisdom? Anywhere we should check out if we’ve got extra time?”

“There’s some great cafes if you head into town, bakeries and such.”

“Perfect, those would be great for a vlog, and some pics.” Kara glanced to Lalannah as if finally remembering her best friend was standing next to her.

Lalannah nodded, her mind already fixed on their goal, get on the tender and off the tender then onto the kayaking tour. 

“Like I said, I hope you make your tour.”

Kara smiled. “Well, you can always check us out, we’re on Instagram and YouTube. I’m Kara Fox and that’s Lalannah Damri.” 

“I think I will do that.” Kara smiled widely and ushered the two of them onto the boat. Lalannah slid into a seat near the entrance and Kara dropped into the one next to her. Lalannah’s legs wouldn’t stay still, she checked her phone. 11:20 a.m., there was no way they could make their tour.

“We are so fucked.”

Kara offered her a quick pat on the leg. “You stress way too much. It will be fine.”

“It won’t. We’re going to miss our tour.”

Kara pressed her hand to Lalannah’s cheek, pulling her face around until they made eye contact. “I can’t promise we’ll make it to the tour. I am going to promise you that whatever happens we’ll have a great day and we’ll get some fantastic shots.”

Lalannah shook her head, the lump at the back of her throat felt like it was going to break free at any second. 

Her voice cracked. “They’re literally paying us to be on this trip and part of the deal was that we get footage of the tours for them and that includes this one.”

Kara nodded. “True, but they also said they wanted footage of the places we visit. We’ll get them that, whether we make it to the tour or not.”

Lalannah glanced to her watch again. 11:23 a.m., they had no chance of making the tour. Even as she thought it, the boat shifted away from the ship and they began the trek to the jetty. She wished she’d timed the trip of the first tender. It had begun the loop back to the ship while they were waiting to leave. 

“Sarah mentioned those cafes. Those sound nice, don’t they? Instagram loves a good coffee photo, and some nice pastries. With all the smoke, the weather isn’t even that nice today anyway.” Lalannah tried to accept what Kara said because logically it all made sense, but this was their first stop and she couldn’t hide the nagging sense that they were failing before they’d even started.

“I’m just so annoyed. We should’ve skipped the photo on deck and we would’ve made it easily. Or we should’ve gotten up earlier. Or had breakfast quicker.”

Kara shrugged. “Maybe. But we didn’t. And here we are. Nothing we can do to change that except be better next time.”

Lalannah fiddled with the strap on her camera bag. She knew Kara was right but it didn’t help in the slightest. 

When their little boat pulled up to the jetty Lalannah’s phone told her it was already 11:30 a.m., they were already late.

She was on her feet as soon as the little boat bobbed to a stop. Both of her bags slung over one shoulder as she bounced on the balls of her feet waiting to be let off. 

“Hurry,” she called back to Kara. Kara was on her feet too. Her bag was smaller. Unlike Lalannah she didn’t have to drag around a bunch of outfit changes as well as hair and makeup stuff, she just had sunscreen, a towel, and her camera, all jammed into a backpack.

The pair of them rushed down the jetty without stopping to take in the sights. Plenty of other women milled about, some would have tours, others were just enjoying what they could of the beach and sunshine.

“Hopefully Sarah was right.” Lalannah hurried down the jetty leaving Kara to play catch up. At the most they had five minutes to make it to the end of the jetty before their kayaking tour left without them. Lalannah had actually been looking forward to the kayaking, it was one of the things on their itinerary she’d been looking forward to most. She’d always wanted to try it but never had the chance. 

She could see the end of the jetty, but with the glare from the cloud cover she couldn’t see whether their tour group was still there. 

“I think we might be lucky,” Kara called from behind her. “That group looks like they could be ours.”

Lalannah squinted to get a look at what Kara had seen but couldn’t pinpoint any group as such. She sped up. Every moment they were on the jetty was a moment they might miss their tour. 

She wished she’d worn sneakers instead of flip flops. Her calves burned with every step and her ankles twisted in every direction. 

She was finally close enough to get a good look at the end of the jetty. Her heart dropped. They were too late.

Read January 5, 2020 here.

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